Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Moving East...and South

A lot has happened with Destiny since the last blog.  Both she [boats are still referred to as “She” in these days of over-sensitivity and political correctness aren't they?] and our family have moved out of the Los Angeles area.  Valerie and I finally made the move to our favorite little island off the Gulf Coast of Alabama; Dauphin Island.  Like so often is the case, a variety of circumstances came together at the same time and motivated a life change, another chapter so to speak.  In this case, Valerie lost her job, and our apartment building in Marina del Rey was undertaking a radical renovation which when completed would raise our rent to more than we wanted to pay or could afford.  I had been lobbying for a move for quite sometime so when this opportunity presented itself we knew it was time to go.
            I have owned a beach house on Dauphin Island since 2004.  We enjoyed our get-a-ways there and it paid for itself in weekly rentals when we weren't there.  The Island is loaded with great history having been a French settlement originally since the late 1600's,  the site of native American relics, and Fort Gains built after the war of 1812 to keep the bloody British out of Mobile Bay.  Also, it has the greatest beaches in the world with sand that looks like snow in all the photos. 


            When the decision was made I thought we should by another boat to live on during high rental season and live at the beach house in low season.  But, Valerie asked “Where am I going to put my furniture?” so, we bought another house.  I tease that we bought an expensive storage unit.

            After getting settled in, including me joining Turner Marine as a yacht broker, I made arrangements for Destiny to be shipped to Mobile.  One of the perks of working with Turner Marine is that Destiny can stay here free, and being a full service boat yard, she can get all the attention needed…which I’m finding out is considerable.
When she/it arrived I took the opportunity to have her bottom done.  I had not previously done any bottom restoration, as I’ve explained before I’m a believer in “If it ain't broke don’t fix it.”  Well, perhaps I should have listened to my intuition, but instead I had all the old paint ground off, right down to the beautiful mahogany planks, her bottom resealed and new paint applied.  When she was lifted gently down into the Bay it was like trying to float a colander.  “She just needs to swell up some.”  I was told. 

            Well, she did finally swell up and would stay afloat, but we decided to remove and fill in the hole of an old depth transducer we suspected of leaking and that seemed to help steam the flow.   We had a great summer sailing in the Mobile Yacht Club’s Thursday night “beer can” races.  Our advantage was that the competition was so busy taking our picture they forgot to race.  You may imagine that I’ve been in a battle with the Gulf Coast yachting Association GYA for a competitive PHRF rating and after several changes now am racing with a PHRF of 213 around the buoys.

As fall rolled around we made arrangements to attend the Madison, Louisiana Wooden Boat Festival.  Madison, in on Lake Pontchartrain, north of New Orleans, over 150 nautical miles from our marina on Mobile Bay.  We took it leisurely, stopping the first night at Dauphin Island , then Gulfport, MS and finally to Madison with the help of Tow Boat US for the last several miles due to the ignition coil on the old Gray Marine taking that opportunity to breath it’s last breath.  The show was fabulous with hundreds of on-lookers oooing and ahhhing as they toured below decks.  At the final awards presentation Destiny was awarded first place for sail boats and runner up to a vintage steam trawler for best of show.

On the return home, we had to motor against then prevailing south easterlies.  The good news was the new coil performed perfectly and the old Gray didn't skip a beat.  The bad news was, on our way into Dauphin Island, in the middle of a perfectly marked channel, we ran aground.  It was a soft grounding but we were stuck, and less than ¼ mile from where we were to tie up for the night.  As luck would have it, a passing power boat gave us a hand and pivoted us off the shoal, but in the process it opened up some seems and I found out later, when we hauled her again, there was a broken the rudder hinge and a portion of the rudder.
            We made it back to the marina and kept an eye on the bilge until she was hauled and put on the hard,  where she is as I write this segment.  The Insurance Company has been notified and the claim process started.

In the mean time I’ve had the opportunity to do some more research, and have uncovered some more history.  I was reviewing some old paperwork that I hadn't previously uncovered.  With the prospect of water invading the boat I removed all the old receipts and manuals left on board, fearing they may get wet.  I have been able to narrow the gap, though only slightly.  I learned that previously to the donation to the non-profit sailing academy, Life Sail, who named here Destiny, she was owned by Jacques (Jack) Lorch, and her name was Skeaf IV.  Mr. Lorch owned her through the early 2000's, and was the one that installed her current engine. I have put in a call to the number I found on a West Marine receipt dated January 2002, and was told by a receptionist that he was still at the firm but wasn't in at the moment.  I’ll let you know what I find out if we get talk.  
       Prior to that apparently Skeaf/Destiny  was owned by Mr. Paul Kemner, I found his name on a  receipt from the sail maker, long since out of business, who made the last set of sails. There was no date, and the old phone number didn't work.  But, I found his obituary, and it said he owned a wooden boat, too much of a coincidence not to be the same.  I found his son Randy’s business in Long Beach California and called.  He was away but I was given his email. We exchanged emails and I learned that his Dad's boat was called Santana, though he called it his "mistress."  He bought her in the late 60's or early 70's, and took care of her until the late 1990's when he was in his 80's.  Randy didn't remember who his Dad bought the boat from.


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